Six Nations: Josh van der Flier insists it would be ‘naive’ to think of the Grand Slam now

Six Nations Josh van der Flier Ireland v Australia 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Six Nations Josh van der Flier Ireland v Australia 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Josh van der Flier feels it would be “naive” for Ireland to get caught up in the expectations of securing an eventual Grand Slam with two rounds still to navigate.

Ireland are the only side still unbeaten in this year’s Six Nations and would need to beat Scotland and England to claim the clean sweep.

Meanwhile, Scotland, who were on track for their own Grand Slam, had their hopes dashed in a thrilling encounter against France in Round Three. However, having beaten England and Wales in the opening two rounds, the Triple Crown is still on the cards.

Tricky Murrayfield battle

When asked if Grand Slam were banned words, the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year underlined the tricky challenge ahead against a resurgent Scotland at their hallowed Murrayfield.

“It’s probably something we would have mentioned at the start of the tournament, so I wouldn’t say it was a banned word, no,” Van der Flier said.

“But with the threat we have this weekend with a Scotland side that are playing so well, it would be probably naive of us to start talking about a Grand Slam or anything like that.

“I think it’s going to be a massive challenge against a really, really good side.

“It is obviously the goal for every team going in, you want to win all of your games, but it will be a such a big challenge this week that you can’t look far past that.”

Ireland can expect the possible return of several stars for the Murrayfield battle, which will be confirmed in the team announcement on Thursday.

Beware of Russell

Van der Flier singled out Finn Russell as a threat the Irish need to nullify and believes it will take a collective, disciplined effort to close the playmaker down.

“Finn Russell is a brilliant player, he’s been on great form,” said the flanker.

“I suppose the trick with him is you don’t try and think you’ll solve it on your own.

“If someone jumps out of the line or tries to go at him on his own, he’s got good footwork, he’s good at picking the right pass.

“It’s a team thing and anyone who’s in and around him has to focus on staying connected with each other and not give him those opportunities.

“He’s one of those players that you give a bit of space to and he’s good enough to capitalise, as we’ve seen the last few weeks.”

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